Monday, July 21, 2014

Chuck Jones exhibit at MOMI

As most of you know, I'm a product of being raised on Disney and Warner Bros. cartoons. For me, the Warner Bros. shorts were my touchstone for humor - my holy trinity consists of Tex Avery, Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones.

Tex and Bob had the biggest influence, because of their wild, anarchic humor and exaggeration - whereas Chuck tended to be more sentimental and relied too much on cuteness.  Yet, he made a handful of shorts that were masterpieces - his Road Runner cartoons are some of my favorites.  "One Froggy Evening" is a classic, and "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" is perfect.

I'm talking about Chuck because there's a wonderful exhibition and film program at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, NY.  The other night I went to the gala opening, there was lots of great animation talent there, the wine was flowing and then we all gathered around for one of the most boring presentations imaginable.  All these politicians and bureaucrats got up and bored us to death with their self-serving speeches.  If I'd known it was going to be a political conference, I would have stayed at home.

They ended the presentation with a rare, but bland, Chuck Jones infomercial about public health.  I'm sure they could have come up with something more entertaining.  The only saving grace for the evening was the awesome exhibition of early artwork, drawings, model sheets, sketches, and of course clips from his films.

The other question I'm left with is - will the public think that Chuck Jones invented the phrase "What's Up, Doc?", because the title of the exhibition is "What's Up, Doc: The Animation Art of Chuck Jones".  I hope not, because that phrase come from a Tex Avery Bugs Bunny short.

If you get a chance to see this wonderful event, do it!  It's a great look at one of the true geniuses of the Golden Age of Animation.  I give it an "A".

--Bill Plympton

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